Wild Dog Adventure Riding

Riding: Plan, Report and Racing => Ride Reports => 'Roll of Honour' - Best Ride Reports => Topic started by: Mzee on December 05, 2009, 04:37:23 pm

Title: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: Mzee on December 05, 2009, 04:37:23 pm
I went to bed late and dog tired; it had been a busy day sorting out money issues, medicines, last minute chores. It wasn’t a laboured sleep but also one not so smooth as I drifted in and out of sleep. Among other things, this explains why I was very tired and decided to spend a day in Gaborone. The good news though: The big day had at last arrived.

I had not done all my packing when I went to bed.  I had to be awake by 4 a.m. to complete this most cumbersome task.  While I was showering, the troubling question was: How do you pack things you will need to last seven weeks, on a bike.  I read on the Wilddog Forum about what to include and exclude. The ideal is always easy to talk about but I’m afraid quite divorced from an actual trip. I had to take food and bike emergency stuff, gifts for folks, etc, yet you can only carry so much.  In the end, with the help of Fidele, my friend who is visiting and who will keep my house while I am away, this is how the loaded bike looked.

Meanwhile, Andy had agreed to accompany me to Tlokweng border (Botswana).  In all the time I have known him, if he says 7:00 it means 7:00.  I was annoyed with myself that I was only 50% ready when he   roared onto the driveway on his DL 1000 Vstrom.   The worst thing to do was to be uncharitable to a friend going this far. Let me spare you the details.

About three weeks ago, I decided to involve some form of media in my Johannesburg-Kampala Odyssey. I communicated with Udo Caralse – 702 talk show presenter.  So yesterday morning I was back on 702 radio to happily announce to ‘johannesburgers’ of my departure that morning, naturally this ate into my packing time.  

During the packing, I could not remember where I had kept my dollars.  You know how things tend to go wrong at the last moment of an event. I had the money in the morning, but now I just could not find it.  Fidele, his loving wife and I looked everywhere but all in vain. If I needed anything now it was intense focus and deep calm.  Some minutes later I remembered the money was in a side pocket of my camera bag – the relief was enormous.

Andy and I agreed that our departure was scheduled for 8:00a.m. I wanted to officially start off from Wits University. We were running late by my calculation.  I was hungry and had not eaten since the previous day, except I’d had two slices of Debonair pizza. In haste to start on time, I forfeited breakfast.  I was amazed where I derived energy to keep going.

It was clear except for some mushroom shaped clouds hugging the sky.  A hot day was in the making. Clad in my riding gear, it was a spectacle seeing my neighbours coming to bid me farewell, beginning with Grahams, then Paul, then Jennifer and finally I hugged the Fideles and slid on the saddle onto which I had tethered my Airhawk to massage my sitting apparatus during the long hours of sitting. I need to say that the Airhawk is one wise investment I made with reference to extras on the bike.

Without much ceremony we roared off and surprisingly we were on time.  We were at Wits School of Education in 20 minutes.  On arrival, I set the GPS and adjusted the odometer to count from zero.  At 8:05am. We rode-off down Empire road towards Soweto and eventually Lichhtenburg to avoid road tolls.  We cruised mostly at 120-140kms.  Then it hit me for first time that the odyssey was real.

Our first pit-stop was at Lichtenburg for petrol and a cold drink with Etienne who was to accompany us to Zeerust.  The ride to Zeerust was eventless.  Andy and Etienne bid me farewell; we parted ways. I don’t know if I felt the loneliness overwhelm me at that time because I’d always banked on Andy in case of breakdown.  One of the last things he gave me was a repair manual.  I did not want to think of it.  I kept it away and hoped I would never have to make recourse to it. Without much ado, I set off for the border post.  Cruising at a constant 120km I soon got to the Tlokweng Gate. I parted with 110 pula on the Botswana side, and my green light to Gaborone came on.  It was scorching hot.

In South Africa, I had relied on my phone for communication.  Now I was alone.  I needed a phone to call my friend.  At my first stop, I had 100 pula, the call was 1 pula for a minute.  Always carry small change; it saves a lot of discomfort. I rode to Riverwalk shopping mall.  Remember I was hungry; I knew something sugary would boost my energy levels.  Ice-cream – the joy of ordinary niceties! In that sweltering heat, it was the most desirable thing.

The Vstrom, especially a loaded one is a captivating sight. I think it is true for all bikes. They are always a spectacle to behold.  On the panniers it reads ‘Johannesburg’ – ‘Kampala’.  

 “So you are really going to Kampala?” a man asked.  
“Hmmm,” I mumbled between mouthfuls of ice-cream.

Later, I asked him if I could find a public phone.  He said I could use his cell to call my friend, Jonathan. For the complete stranger that he was, with loads of generosity for yet another stranger, I was totally humbled.  He later took me all the way to my friend’s place, where I had a cold bath, braai meal and a warm bed.  I simply passed out; ‘slept’ would be an understatement.

The trip was meant to continue on Saturday.  I woke up feeling like I had borrowed someone else’s body. Fatigue to the bone connived well with Jonathan’s encouragement for me to rest. The Livingstone leg of the trip could wait, the company of friends Jonathan and his loving girlfriend was too much to forfeit; not yet!  More important, I had time to tell this story. I had ridden 469kms and used 28 liters of petrol.

Blog: http://mzee-jaki.blogspot.com/2009_11_29_archive.html

Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: edgy on December 05, 2009, 04:39:07 pm
Subscribed! :happy1:
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: Tuareg on December 05, 2009, 07:14:55 pm
Subscribed!
+1

Enjoy the journey
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: BLIKSEM!! on December 05, 2009, 07:41:16 pm
i dont want to put presure on you, but this looks like a RR for the "Roll of Honour"  ;)

Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: Onetime on December 05, 2009, 08:11:01 pm
Subscribed.
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: Gee S on December 05, 2009, 09:29:44 pm
Subscribed! :happy1:
Me too.
Enjoy the experience and please don't forget to update this thread.
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: Xwagga on December 05, 2009, 09:44:02 pm
Nice
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: BlueBull2007 on December 06, 2009, 03:28:14 am
Horaay!! Youre off! Will be following this one every day!
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: DirtRebell on December 06, 2009, 04:59:10 am
hier kom 'n ding!
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: Griffin on December 06, 2009, 05:39:28 am


You have a wonderfull writing style.
"I had ridden 469kms and used 28 liters of petrol."
Is that fuel consumption normal? :o
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: edgy on December 06, 2009, 07:16:35 am


You have a wonderfull writing style.
"I had ridden 469kms and used 28 liters of petrol."
Is that fuel consumption normal? :o
16.75 kms/liter sounds fair with a loaded bike!
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: Doggone on December 06, 2009, 07:25:59 am
Stay safe Mzee. Looking forward to following your journey on line!!  ;D
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: roxenz on December 06, 2009, 10:18:44 am
Well done, you're on your way!  :thumleft: God speed and safe riding.  Looking forward to e-following you on this trip, Mzee.
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: Pom on December 07, 2009, 09:35:09 am
Best wishes Jaki, keep the chin up and make the most of a once in a lifetime experience.

All the best.

Andy
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: Frog on December 07, 2009, 10:21:26 am
Travel safely and appreciate every moment
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: LeonDude on December 07, 2009, 12:34:13 pm
Enjoy the trip Mzee!  :thumleft:
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: IceCreamMan on December 07, 2009, 12:41:29 pm
awesome  :thumleft:
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: Mzee on December 07, 2009, 06:44:12 pm
 Blog with Pictures: I set off at 4:00 am heading for Kazungula border.  I was deeply grateful that the Jonathans had persuaded me to stay. I was feeling refreshed and ready to ride on. I started as is my custom with prayer and dashed to shower — a cold one.  I relished every drop of water as it rolled of my skin. It is possible this was my last bath for days.  In addition, my late mother, bless her Lord, used to say do something when you can; you never know.   As it were, in these travels bathing becomes a luxury when you are living rough.

As I cruised down the A3, I could not help thinking what a lucky man I was to have Jonathan for a friend. We had known each other for over ten years and during my visit we spoke from our hearts like good ol friends do.  We had prayed together in the morning and I had hugged them reluctantly, for parting is often heart rending.  I roared off without looking back. I knew they would abide with me in prayers.

I was grateful for my Zumo (Garmin GPS). One can almost ride blind and trust that it will take you there — the miracle of human ingenuity.  These devices work yet they can also be the joy and the cause of misery.  Well now it was working: I followed every instruction it beamed at me as I rode at a modest 80Km per hour to warm up the bike.  The sky was velvet black, the road was well lite and as the reflectors that mark the road bounced the light from my headlight, the night was turned into day.

A couple of miles, I came across a car parked with hazard lights on.  I stopped; there was a man inside. It was still dark and it was hard to tell whether he was just sleeping or something had happened to him.  Another driver stopped and we both tried to get the man to respond.  It went on for a couple of minutes and no response.  I decided to leave and asked the other man to handle the matter.

Francistown was 440kms away and was eventless.  I stopped twice.  But the beauty of this morning ride was to see the sun emerge behind the clouds on the eastern sky at exactly 5:37am: first the deep orange-red rays and then her, majestically clothed in deep orange-red colours.  I strode on arriving in Francistown by 8:30am. It was hard to find something to eat this early; I guess it was Sunday and Francistown was slow in waking up. Why the hurry. I found a quarter chicken eventually, bought some water and biscuits and was off to Kazungula.

About 200km before Kazungula, the road conditions changed — patches of tarmac and mostly ‘dirt road’ as we call it in South Africa.  I was thankful that I did the Honda dirt road training. I could ride this patches standing on the bike.  Sometimes it was scary but I guess you get used to it.   My only stops were for petrol.  I did see some elephants on the way.  I arrived at Kazungula at 2:30pm. That is when my troubles started.  

A young man came up to me and said he was willing to help me complete the process of border crossing.  I am a widely travelled man but it was a completely a different story at Kazungula.  The ferry could not take my 1 dollar bill notes.  They insisted on a bigger denomination.  My paying spree started then — 5$ first payment ferry charge. I went through customs then 10$ road tax.  This time the border official accepted my one dollar bills.  I did not mind the paying if that was how I was going to get through. The problem is everyone was trying to have a piece of me: they saw rand and dollars and not the person.  In the process, what would take you a couple of minutes to complete, took me until 5:30pm at every turn someone was trying to complicate my travel unless he can profited.  If this can happen to me, what would it be like to the rest of you?  I did not thing it was going to be smooth when I set out to this odyssey -- pains and joys are daughter and son of adventure.  To spare you the details, a young Revenue official who simply had a thing for bikes got into conversation with me – his blessed hand did the rest and I was on my way to Livingstone 60kms way having paid nothing more than the required fees and wondering whether Dr. David Livingstone had these same problems.

It appears to me that custom officials collude with all kinds of riff-raffs to get money out of unsuspecting traveler.  What also astounded me was the number of young man at the border post.  What are they all doing here?  Simple logic account for every penny you spend at the border.  Sometime it might not be that clear. Blog with Pictures now:

http://mzee-jaki.blogspot.com/2009_12_06_archive.html
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: edgy on December 07, 2009, 07:36:21 pm
Enjoying! :thumleft:
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: Pom on December 08, 2009, 08:28:33 am
At Mzee:
Are these the problems that the chap in Zeerust was talking about?
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: IDR on December 08, 2009, 08:42:19 am
go well, be safe, and enjoy the trip!
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: Gooseneck on December 08, 2009, 10:49:38 am
Geniet dit Mzee sterkte met die grensposte, baie geduld.God Bless
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: Tonteldoos on December 08, 2009, 09:53:52 pm
Subscribe!! I like your writing style
Enjoy your dream  :thumleft:
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: Pom on December 10, 2009, 08:28:13 am
I am getting ms messages from Mzee on an almost daily basis, I don't want to spoil hid report, last night he was in Southern Tanzania and all going good, he has had a slight off on a bad road but all OK.
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: Laban on December 10, 2009, 08:56:37 am
I am getting ms messages from Mzee on an almost daily basis, I don't want to spoil hid report, last night he was in Southern Tanzania and all going good, he has had a slight off on a bad road but all OK.

Thanks Pom! :thumleft:
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: Mzee on December 13, 2009, 02:14:03 pm
Sorry folks for getting lost. I am alive and well.  It has been hectic in the wild.  I have loved every moment of it.  Never thought I would travel in so remote a place.  No internet. just, me and the wild. Roads from hell: mud, rain, sand, forests, I tumbled fifteen times. I am well only by the grace of God. Story to come. Scorpion has performed beyond imagination. Need to tell her own story.

Thank you for your best wishes and prayers.  Can't post because not compatible with word 2007. will do so tomorrow. I left Tanzania on Wed spent the night in Burundi and now in Rwanda chilling. The best place to be. Might have fallen in... ;D :imaposer: :thumleft:
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: ZAR on December 13, 2009, 03:39:03 pm
Hey Mzee, glad to hear from you!

Stay safe. Lots of respects!!!

 :thumleft:
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: GundaGunda on December 15, 2009, 08:07:45 am
Hey Mzee - good to see you safe and (almost) sound.

Rwanda looks like a drive and seven iron from Uganda - can walk the bike in from there !  ;D
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: Mzee on December 15, 2009, 05:57:20 pm
Hey Mzee - good to see you safe and (almost) sound.

Rwanda looks like a drive and seven iron from Uganda - can walk the bike in from there !  ;D

I thought I would walk the bike to Uganda. I actually thought I would have lunch with my brother. I only arrived at Kampala after 7:00pm.   :imaposer:

You all make me proud.  I resume narrating my report.
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: Mzee on December 15, 2009, 06:01:05 pm
The Goodness of the human Spirit Always Prevails

I rode from Gaborone (Botswana) to Kazungulu (Zambia) covering a distance of 1085km from a 4:00am to 2:30pm.  This means that ideally I could have ridden on much further.  Scorpion had won my heart without any reservations; she made me proud.  As a machine, she has been flawless and consistent in her performance making my heart fonder of her each passing day.    But I wish to speak of her on another occasion.

In my earlier post, I said that the process of crossing the border at Kazungula was a nightmare, firstly because of the numerous documents I had to complete; the many accompanying fees and taxes, which were always not clear but mandatory.  At Tlakweng (Botswana) it was simple: 110 Pula for road tax.  Neither did the large Zambian currency denomination make matters easier.  Secondly, because of the number of officials and pseudo –officials I had to deal with — everyone vying for a piece of me.  I had to go into several offices to do different things; it was all confusing.  When the process was finally completed, it was 5:00pm.   I still had pay George who, I must admit, facilitated the process of documentation — running from one office to another to provide support.  He was a good man who was trying to earn a decent living. He had told me that the government was not helping very much with jobs.  Well, he had actually gone as far as making some of the payments using his own money — he provided official receipts. The problem started when he inflated figures.  It could have gone unnoticed except that in his haste to milk me he started contradicting himself either lured by greed or rather in thinking I was naive.  I have a good ear for faults in someone logic.  I pointed this out and an argument ensued.  In the meantime his friends started to gather around us.  It was time to conclude this deal.   In the end, I refunded his money 40$ and gave him another 10$ for his services.  At this point he was yelling and cursing that I was being unfair.  I told him he was a good man and I was grateful that he had helped me, but to try and steal from me was no virtue and that in so doing, he had cancelled his blessings.   He kept demanding for more and was increasingly becoming hysterical.  I was anxious to leave for Livingstone, I rode off.  

It was now drizzling lightly; I was very tired and hungry.  The chicken I ate at Francistown was long digested.  But now I just wanted to get to Livingstone.  The road was paved and good.  When I am tired, I ride at slower speeds.  I cruised at 80km per hour and covered the 66 odd kilometers in no time.  I went through the city centre and to Livingstone Falls.  The receptionist, a gorgeous Zambian lady was kind to direct me to a decent money changer to change my dollars into Kwacha.  I paid another 10$ entrance fees and what a sight to behold.  

They said Dr. David Livingstone was the first man to discover the falls.  With all due respect to him, what about the indigenous folks living in the vicinity? Since this ride report is not about the morality of this statement, a discussion will not ensue.

I still had to find a place to lay this tired body.  One thing you will appreciate is that it is not always easy to find a place to pitch a tent for reasons of personal security.  I rode around town checking out the lodges and hotels.  In one hotel a night was 120$.  The lodges went for not less than 50$.  If I stayed in such places, my trip would soon come to an end.  After three attempts, it was now dark; I was anxious, I came to a place where my gut feelings told me this was it.  I met Rachael at the reception, who said it was 200,000 kwacha (roughly 40$) a night.  I hesitated.  She asked: “what I was going to offer”.  I said that I would rent a place to pitch my tent.  She said ok.  One of the things I set out to do during this trip is to rely on human goodness.  I have met with it so far.  This is a major theme of this Odyssey.  Rachael was a very sweet person to say the least.  Bless her Lord!

I set up the tent where she indicated, nothing occupied my mind more than sleep.  I didn’t care about eating; I managed a Heineken though.   It was the first time I was going to sleep in the tent.   It turned out to be comfortable just like it is at home.  The inflatable mattress was a deluxe.  Apart from the humid and stuffy night, I did not need the use of my sleeping bag until the wee hours of the morning, I slept soundly.  I remember the last thing on my mind was thanking God for bringing me this far.  I even dreamt of my favourite food — grilled potatoes and roast beef.  ;)

http://mzee-jaki.blogspot.com/2009/12/goodness-of-human-spirit-always.html
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: Adventurer on December 15, 2009, 06:09:06 pm
Intersting reading so far Mzee, good to hear you are safe and sound.
My mate Rob crossed into Zambia 3 days ago, also at Kazangula, also said it was a nightmare, took him 2 hours and lots of frustration.
He says next time he will go into Zim at Plumtree, up to Vic Falls, then cross into Zambia at the bridge.
Seems the Zambians are taking over from the Zimbabweans regarding border rip-offs....
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: Ganjora on December 15, 2009, 06:16:50 pm
go Mzee,  go
good to hear from you
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: Mzee on December 15, 2009, 06:18:40 pm
First Experience of Dirt Road on this odyssey

I opened my eyes, and it was still dark outside my ‘home’.  I was awoken by a loud cock crow on its watch.  It was a beautiful sound.  He was somewhere out there claiming the right to his territory as cocks all do.  When you live in a city such as Johannesburg, these are some of the things you miss.  But the one thing ‘Johanesburgers’ can take pride in are the many trees that Johannesburg is renowned for. One obvious advantage is the ‘perch’ the trees provide for birds of all description.  If the Dutch created Holland, then ‘Johanesburgers’ created the ‘forests’ of Johannesburg. They are visible on a clear day when you came to land at Oliver Tambo International Airport.  My neighbour Jennifer has had birds’ feed in two places on her compound for years. It’s an amazing and a beautiful sight to see small birds of all sizes and colour converge on her compound to feed: birds clothed in yellow, brown, red, orange or black plums sometimes eating peacefully or sometimes fighting over food. They were doing what birds do best —foraging.

As the bird thoughts ran through my mind, I must have lain on my ‘bed’ drifting in and out of sleep for another hour.  I also prayed for a safe trip further north.  I was in no particular hurry today yet knew that 524km of road to Lusaka lay ahead of me.  

It has been sheer joy riding up to this point.  I was aware that with me I carried the dreams of many a rider who would have wished to be on a similar trip. In addition, I carried the dreams of folks who love sheer adventure or the story of good adventure.  I also have many friends and colleagues following the story on my web-blog; it astounded me on the last count that I had 513 visits all over the world.  Obviously, the ride was not just mine; it was also for them for different reasons. But importantly apart from my adventure, it was also for Malgat, who I had the inkling he was watching over me.

I crawled out of the sleeping bag reluctantly.  The rest at Gaborone had been most welcome, but the body was still tired. I had to bath and pack.  This was one of the pains I endured every morning: to secure everything tightly on the bike in waterproof material.  As I stepped out of the tent Michael, who I met the previous night was there waiting to greet me. He was an amiable and kind man of about 35. He called himself the caretaker of the property.  He was willing to help at every turn. We struck up friend on my arrival. He showed me the bath, which was not a very clean environment; I am not complaining— just stating the fact.  It was part of the travel.
After the bath, I put everything in bags and secured them on the bike. When it came to the tent, the outside sheet had collected dew.  The instructions were: “don’t park when moist”.  The day was overcast.  It meant a long wait. Patience was not going to help today.  I used my towel to dry it, packed it.

Meanwhile, I noticed, it was now about 7:30am, many pretty girls arriving.  
“Michael”, said I “how come many pretty girls are here this morning?”
He laughed and said “you have a good eye. The boss trusts ladies only for his business.  He claims they don’t steal as much as men do.  And if they should steal, they tell all when threatened with a police case, and spare everyone much trouble”.  On the contrary he added, “Men are difficult”.  He went on, “the other advantage is that women attract men to the club and the men spend their money here for whatever reason”.

I chuckled.  My thoughts had drifted away from the current subject.  I thought this boss had judged men harshly.  But this was his experience.  My experience was utterly different.  It is true the best people in my life were women, which include my late mother (May she rest in peace!) and a host of friends and girls.  By the same token, the worst people in my life were women. Angels on the one hand and something unspeakable on the other hand. And this is the point I wish to emphasise: it is not a gender question — man or woman. It is the goodness of heart and the capacity to evince it which is my concern.  You could be a bishop and you are so bad of your lot to the extent that even the devil will not make friends with you.  You could be a ‘pauper’ but having the largest human heart.  It will suffice to say, individuals are judge according to their deeds and not their gender.

Famished, it was time to have breakfast.  Is this what they call an English breakfast: toast with butter, ham, eggs, cereals and tea?   Since I slept with an empty stomach, eating was vital this morning to replenish lost energy.  I was now feeling pressed to depart; I ate hurriedly.  We posed for photos and after much hugging and wishing we had more time together and gentle smiles.  I was on my way to Lusaka; it was 11:00am.

Immediately, I was on a dirt road. I always pump my tyres hard and this worried me, yet I kept the pressure high.  The road was so bad that I rode between 10-40kms speed initially.  It turned out that this was a 135km stretch. After I mastered some confidence and on portions of the road which were good, I reached speeds of 100km.  Then the first sign of engineering trouble manifested itself.  After the first 25kms I became aware of a rattling noise.  I heard this same noise enroute to Kazungula on a dirt stretch but could not point its source.  I inspected the bike from front to back and noticed the plates holding the rear axle adjustments device were loose (see photo).  How did I miss this during the pre-trip inspection?  After I tightened them, the noise disappeared.

Comfortably ensconced on the saddle, I begun enjoying the machine: (my Scorpion).  In capable hands she will perform as best as she is engineered.  In addition, travelling solo, I had laden her with a lot of stuff including 10 liters of extra petrol. In summing this chapter, I wish to say that no sane wife or husband compares her partner to another.  Along this line of thought, I will merely extol Scorpion’s virtues on the basis of her performance in the next chapter.  ;) :D

http://mzee-jaki.blogspot.com/2009/12/first-experience-of-dirt-road-on-this.html
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: Mzee on December 16, 2009, 06:58:54 pm
The Jewel: http://mzee-jaki.blogspot.com/2009/12/jewel.html
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: Mzee on December 16, 2009, 07:04:02 pm
Rendezvous with the good folks of Lusaka: http://mzee-jaki.blogspot.com/2009/12/rendezvous-with-good-folk-of-lusaka.html
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: Mzee on December 25, 2009, 09:09:41 am
Merry Christmas.  I am well. Internet has been so slow that I could only post this message.  I am having all the fun.  I have hot stories.  Watch this space and make no mistake I am having all the fun. ;D :D :ricky:
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: krister on December 25, 2009, 09:56:49 am
Merry Christmas, Mzee!  Looks like you're having fun, Broer... Have fun and stay safe!
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: Griffin on December 26, 2009, 07:24:21 am
I'm looking forward to the next installment. Be safe bro. Hope you have something special lined up for new year.
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: darkhelmet on December 31, 2009, 10:08:32 pm
Loving your stories so far, looking forward to some new stories!

Enjoy the tirp and be safe
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: Laban on January 01, 2010, 03:05:43 pm
Take care and enjoy!! :thumleft:
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: TornadoF5 on January 03, 2010, 02:17:36 pm
Lovely stuff Mzee have a safe trip!
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: Mzee on January 03, 2010, 07:04:11 pm
Happy New Year.  I am back on line.  Was in the middle of no where.  Even mobile phones had a bad network.  Needless to mention, the internet was none existent and even where there was one, it was so slow that I could hardly open a page on the WD forum. I have been doing some travelling in Uganda.  Went to Soroti about 450 km from Kampala, Arua, Katakwi and lots of other places.  Spent Christmas completely in the wild where the only vehicle was my Vstrom ;D.  But in all my years of life, it was the loveliest Christmas.  So plenty of stories and pictures.   Will resume posting possibly tomorrow. 

I am in Nairobi.  Arrived today from Soroti.  En route to SA.  Spending some quality time with my life time buddy.  See you soon.

Thanks to Pom for sending me the brake pads.  Received them on 31st when my brother Fred paid me a visit where I spent Christmas.  Have sent you a pm.
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: Groenie on January 03, 2010, 07:58:21 pm
Great stuff Mzee!
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: Hagar on January 03, 2010, 11:27:34 pm
Good reading, and thanks for sharing Mzee!
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: Mzee on January 04, 2010, 07:29:53 am
Folks I promised to post here is  the link with pictures.  http://mzee-jaki.blogspot.com/2010/01/my-first-tumble.html (http://mzee-jaki.blogspot.com/2010/01/my-first-tumble.html)
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: 63magic on January 04, 2010, 10:01:09 am
good to hear you are still OK and enjoying the trip, Jaki!

travel safely!
M
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: ADVENTURERIDER on January 04, 2010, 01:51:22 pm
I am so glad to hear that you enjoy it. May God bless you during every kilo.
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: GundaGunda on January 09, 2010, 02:18:47 pm
Hey Mzee.

My big sister, Prof. Sue v. Z., wishes you well and a safe journey back :thumleft:
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: GundaGunda on January 15, 2010, 01:40:37 pm
Heard, but subject to confirmation, that Mzee is back in one piece.

Waiting for more news. 
 
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: ZAR on January 15, 2010, 01:47:24 pm
For 10 days we haven't heard from Mzee....

This morning he phoned me! What a relief.  :thumleft:

He lost his phone, his computer gave trouble and were in the bush.

Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: KiLRoy on January 15, 2010, 01:56:49 pm
Good to hear from you again Mzee - all the best AND ENJOY!!!!!
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: Mzee on January 18, 2010, 03:24:06 pm
The road from Hell

I am now riding on a typical African ‘dirt’ road: rugged, portholes, sand, loose stones, and generally not maintained.  Let me mention that I did not have knobblies for tyres; I had Anakee 2 which handle very well on paved road surface as well as on firm dirt road, but that is about it.  The story takes on a new twist when I began to encounter different dirt road conditions as you will soon learn.

Part of this trip was to relish the riding on different road surfaces.   This being the aim, my first encounter on the dirt road in spite of my first tumble had wetted my appetite for more.  I picked up speed gradually climbing to 120km per hour.  I man the machine and Scorpion mans the road, it is a perfect scene for the duo to perform a perfect rode dance.   It is about 2:00 pm, my destination is Sumbawanga a small dusty town located about 200km from the border.  To say that the stretch from Mbala (Zambia) to Kasesya border post (Tanzania) was a bad road is an understatement.  It was the beginning of the road from Hell. If the truth be told then it is that I tumbled so many times that after the 15th tumble, I stopped counting.   Well the next stretch from Kasesya for the next 200 kms was firm dirt road with loose stones and lots of dust.  It was thrilling to leave a cloud of dust trailing behind me.   You see, the little joys of life are not in the big things but in the little links that make life worthwhile.   My delight was to be on this odyssey with all its attendant factors.   

Although riding required 110% of my attention to which I committed myself to the extent that I decided not to listen to music from an IPod a generous friend had lent me, I always allowed myself a little serious thought.  I did not want this to be a trip just for its sake: the fact that I was riding alone was a great source of pleasure.  It allowed me considerable measure of time to be alone and therefore room for some deep thought on many personal issues.  2009 was particularly a good year if such a thing can be said.  Part of the ride was to say thank you.  I was grateful to the Divine that I had received many blessings one of which was that I had landed a permanent job as a lecturer.  Yet in the midst of all these joy and laughter was raw pain, heart rending pain that left me sometimes numb and asking “why” to which I did not have answers.   I will return to this point shortly.

In the meantime, I wish to say that all my life I had spent time doing things for people, and one of them was to seeing my 4 siblings through school.  My mother had died when I was only 21.  That is the age when you want your mother around since it is the point when you are making some life-time decisions.  And even though you make the decisions, you need a trusted one to listen, to endorse, to question and even sometimes to remonstrate with you.  It is that time of transition from being a teen to being an adult.  It is an important time that makes or breaks you.  I was very close to my mom; she was my best friend and mentor.  I trusted her; I confided in her; I depended on her.  One day she summoned me to her bed side in hospital.   Without much ado she said to me, you are going to school – I was a just beginning my year as a sophomore – you will not find me when you return next vacation.  To cut the long story short, that is how it happened.  I remember the day vividly.  One day I met my neighbour Alfred on a street in Kampala – it was a clear hot and dusty day.  He called me by name and offered condolences for the passing on of my mother.   I remember sitting by the roadside and crying like a baby. 

In our discussion at the bedside, mom’s desire was that I marry a beautiful lady and have a family.  I wanted to join the priesthood; it was therefore necessary to obtain her blessings.   She had gone silent for an hour when I disclosed my heart’s desires.  In the end she said no.  I had to take care of my siblings when she was gone.

In 1993 I found and feel in love with a girl I adored so much.  Juliet, for that was her name, was everything a man desires in a woman: kind, hard-working, intelligent, beautiful, funny, and the list is endless.  I visited Juliet on the 24th of December 1993.  That was the last time I saw her alive.  She was tragically shot and killed on the 1st of Jan 1994. She was the second beloved person I was lost in a space of two years.  I was devastated.   What was the meaning of life?  First it was mom and now it was Juliet.  I cried so much until I had to beg God to stop the tears.  They did stop in a dramatic way; I never cried again about Juliet.

In June 1995, I joined the Jesuits for priesthood training – for the next eleven years I was in the training for priesthood against my mother’s will. 

In 2006, I quit.  In October 2008 I got engaged to a Xhosa girl – a great person, very intelligent, a great soul.  We planned to marry on 28th Feb 2010, but alas it was not to be!   She told me one day, she was not interested any more in the relationship.  She left the engagement ring on the table.  I subsequently disposed of it at Livingstone Falls.  It was painful – but what could be more painful than the loss of mom and the loss of Julie?  I had to learn to live with such pain.  Lots of friends gave me strength.  In this manner, delving deep in my life experiences, I covered ground to reach Sumbawanga about mid-afternoon without realising that I had covered nearly 200kms.  But my pains were not yet finished; a new wave was waiting somewhere in the realm of the unknown.

With Pictures: http://mzee-jaki.blogspot.com/2010/01/road-from-hell.html (http://mzee-jaki.blogspot.com/2010/01/road-from-hell.html)
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: Bessie on January 18, 2010, 04:02:31 pm
 :happy1:
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: Laban on January 18, 2010, 04:07:38 pm
Mzee,

Give it your all, cry my man cry, that's good for the soul, that's to be a human, Respect, Respect!! :angel8: :angel8: :angel8:
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: TornadoF5 on January 19, 2010, 08:30:47 am
It can be said that it takes a real man to share his feelings

(http://img340.imageshack.us/img340/5466/utheman.gif)

Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: Mzee on January 19, 2010, 05:31:48 pm
The Road From Hell II

When I set out on this odyssey, numerous friends prayed for the success of the trip.  I knew it was blessed by the Devine and that it was meant to be.  There are many reasons for saying this but an outstanding reason was that this trip was initially planned for December 2008, it simply failed.  Although everything had been taken care of, it seems certain mental preparations had not been met adequately.  I subsequently realised this in retrospect.  I supplied a bona fide but incomplete explanation to explain this state of affair on the Wilddog Forum.

Saint Ireneus once said that God works through nature.  I am not a theologian and will not give treaties on this subject, but my simple faith demonstrated this in a very ordinary manner.  I did everything as far as it was humanly possibly to prepare for the initial trip but it simply failed.  How many times does something fail to work in your favour but you are hard-headed and insistent that it must go on as planned?  How many times do you ever listen to yourself and the circumstances surrounding you?  In the subsequent preparations, which preparations were even better including trying to arrange for Travel Insurance from a reputable firm, one day after a long delay and on the eve of my departure, I was inconveniently informed that my trip was too risky and could not be insured.  In short, I departed without this facility.  I had done lots of travel preparations by trying to cover every conceivable contingency.  My Wilddog Forum colleagues were instrumental to this end either by way of advice, such as from the late Ibele Kruger, supplies from Kurt Beine among others, actual work on the bike, from my buddy Andy.  Among others, Cavegirl, for instance, sent her phone number saying that if ever I wanted to communicate she would provide this avenue.  It is not possible to enumerate every act of kindness that was offered but suffice to say that God works in mysterious ways.  Of all the preparations I did, neither my friends nor I remembered to think about the appropriate tyres for the trip – knobblies.  I had discussed every detail for most of the trip but hardly anything about tyres and even where I did it was more out of curiosity.  For some reason I assumed that Anakees would do.  As I pointed out previously they are good tyres but only to a certain point.  At this point of the trip these tyres were a none-issue. This oversight would result into many tumbles so that after  the fifteenth event, I stopped counting.

I did not spend much time in Sumbawanga.  I rode down its main street – the only tarmac portion of the road – filled up on petrol and headed for Mpanda Ndogo Mpanda about 250km to the north.  A full tank would cover this distance.  I wish to alert the reader that petrol in this part of the world was approximately two dollars a litres. As I left that town behind me, the sun was beginning to go over the horizon; I was anxious to reach Mpanda before it was dark.  On tarmac this was an easy trip but on dirt road my first real test of my riding skills on this sort of terrain was an ordeal.  As I gathered speed, I realised that the road was not as firm as the one I had just ridden on into Sumbawanga.  A close look determined that a grader had recently leveled this road.  This had many implications such as lots of sand collected together but disguised.  I could tell from the way Scorpion was dancing on the road that there was a lot of loose earth beneath my tyres.  In addition, if it were to rain as it did that night, the entire road become one big pool of mud that would make it very treacherous  to ride on.  Towards the equator the sun sets quickly.  I decided to maintain a decent speed to cover good ground before it was dark.  I was also worried by the fact that Katavi National Park was between me and Mpanda.  I decided that the first town I came across, I would call it a day. 

A Land Cruiser was in front of me and the amount of dust it was raising was blinding me and some of it was entering my air vents in the helmet and obviously my mouth. When I had a chance to pass it, they never saw me again.  It was not until 7:45 that I arrived at small town called Mitumba; by then it was pitch black; I could not see my hand in front of my face. I was tired, hungry but glad that I had enjoyed this portion of the trip although it had started in the morning with a tumbled. 

With Pictures: http://mzee-jaki.blogspot.com/2010/01/road-from-hell-ii.html (http://mzee-jaki.blogspot.com/2010/01/road-from-hell-ii.html)
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: Mzee on January 19, 2010, 05:34:14 pm
Hey Mzee.

My big sister, Prof. Sue v. Z., wishes you well and a safe journey back :thumleft:

Hey, the Prof is a very good friend of mine. She was once my boss.  She gave me a living when I could find none.  She does not know about it but I pray for her every day for her kindness.  For her it was probably just a job, for me it was everything.   And I mean everything.:D ;D. 
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: Cave Girl on January 19, 2010, 05:50:24 pm
Hey just caught up with your posts - sounds like you are having a really great trip. Keep the shiney side up!!
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: GundaGunda on January 22, 2010, 09:16:18 am
My big sister, Prof. Sue v. Z., wishes you well and a safe journey back :thumleft:
<snip>  For her it was probably just a job, for me it was everything.   And I mean everything.:D ;D. 

Thanks for the kind comment, but for my big sister work is never just a job. For her learning and teaching are totally integrated with any other part of her life. I admire that in her.
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: Mzee on January 22, 2010, 10:49:16 am
My big sister, Prof. Sue v. Z., wishes you well and a safe journey back :thumleft:
<snip>  For her it was probably just a job, for me it was everything.   And I mean everything.:D ;D. 

Thanks for the kind comment, but for my big sister work is never just a job. For her learning and teaching are totally integrated with any other part of her life. I admire that in her.

Believe me I know her passion with regards to teaching and learning. ;D
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: Gee S on January 22, 2010, 10:17:28 pm
Great report Mzee. Keep it coming.
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: IceCreamMan on January 23, 2010, 07:39:56 am
Mzee mon ami, one day when i grow a pair i am going to go on a trip just like yours

good to hear u doing good   :thumleft:
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: Mzee on January 24, 2010, 11:18:55 am
The Road from Hell III

I remained sitting on the bike for about thirty minutes, the motor idling and the bike on parking lights.  My heart, as it often did, suggested to me that this was the place to stop for the night.  I waited for the owners of Mitumba to come to me.  Any where I stopped; there was never lack of people who came to scrutinize this unusual visitor, to satisfy their curiosity, to fondle the bike – that is what they did. About ten people were around me.   It had one advantage; it always gave me the occasion to start a conversation.  In this case, I requested to know if there was a headman or chief of the area.  It was a very small trading post.  In chorus, they pointed to a shop directly in front of me.  When they learnt that I speak fluent Kiswahili, they said Karibu, which means welcome. He is in there, they said.  I promptly dismounted from the bike and approached the shop.

Shikamoo baba I cried.  This is a Kiswahili greeting to a person of respect (elder).  In his case I added baba, (daddy to spice it up), thus elevating the respect I was paying him to even a higher notch.  Shikamoo has Arabic origins and can be translated as I hold your feet.  After the salutations, he asked me to sit.  I patiently waited until he had finished his business for audience.  He eventually sat beside me and in this manner, I introduced myself, my purpose and why I wanted to see him.  He was a very kind man in his late forties.  Having understood my purpose he promptly showed me two places where I could pitch tent.  He said the one nearest to his house was the best since I would be in his compound.  I said I speak fluent Kiswahili and I also understand the cultures of the region. For this reason I did not find it difficult to blend with the folks of the town.  After parking scorpion and pitching tent, I went to find company and some food.   Rashid was a citizen of the area I invited him to join me.

These people are amiable folks and terribly welcoming; it was like I had come home.  We sat in small eating place and ordered grilled chicken and Ugali (pap or maize meal).  As we waited, we sipped Kilimanjaro, the local bottled beer.  Two extremely beautiful ladies joined us.  I subsequently learnt that the village headman was their uncle.  They operated the eating house.  I noticed it was predominantly Muslim.  On this note it is necessary to point out that one reason why Islam is very successful is because it tends to blend and fuse with the local culture; this makes it appealing.  Islam has blended so well with Swahili as a culture since the days when the Arab dhows came to the East African coast to trade in ivory, spices, slaves and the like.  In fact in my own social origins, to have a cousin who is a moslem is common place.  It was easy for me to notice all this marriage in the surroundings around me.  I need to mention that Kiswahili as a language is spoken widely in the Great Lake Region (Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Congo (DRC), Burundi, Somalia and parts of Southern Sudan) although in a multiplicity of dialects.

As conversation flowed oiled by Kilimanjaro, we spoke about a variety of subjects: marriage, relationships, and politics.  My favourite theme was education.  I learnt that my host was married.  He said he had three boys.  I am a teacher and naturally was inclined to speak about the value of education to the generation of tomorrow.   I was able to extract a promise from my host that he would educate these boys and the ones yet to arrive, for he had indicated that he was going to have two more children.  Although I was tired and would have loved the company of my tent; presently, I loved the company of these ordinary folks.  I had become one of them at least in attitude.  They spoke from their hearts, the simplicity of their manner, the generosity of the rural environment was way different from what I was used to in the metropolitan of Johannesburg.  For me it was a way of reclaiming what was lost or rather what the metropolitan had dispossessed me.   I knew that with wide ears and open eyes there was something to learn from them folks.

It was the coming of a storm that signaled my time to depart and take up residence in my tent.  And so it rained so hard that night in a manner I had not experienced during the entire trip so far.  It was like the heavens had simply opened all its taps.   I was secure and nothing disturbed my peace; I simply drifted off into the land of sleep.
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: krister on January 24, 2010, 06:52:44 pm
Ah nice, Mzee... I enjoyed reading today's post.  You are becoming quite the anthropologist there  ;)

Happy moments and safe travels, Broer...  :thumleft:
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: White Stripes on January 24, 2010, 08:54:27 pm
Great, Mzee. GBWY.
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: Mzee on January 25, 2010, 08:42:45 am
Mzee mon ami, one day when i grow a pair i am going to go on a trip just like yours

good to hear u doing good   :thumleft:

I am already planning for the next one in 2012 Mon Ami God willing.  :thumleft: ;)
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: Mzee on February 03, 2010, 10:29:11 am
The Road From Hell IV

It had rained hard the previous night as a result the conditions of the road had changed.  This implied that the riding strategies would equally have to be adapted.  It was the first time I was going to ride in these wretched circumstances: mud, rain, sand, hills and valley coupled with distance, loneliness, fatigue all fermenting in the same pot at the same time.  Unbeknown to me, the balance of the odyssey, my courage, endurance, physical fitness, was going to be tampered with: stretched and, tested beyond anything I had experienced in a novel way.  It is for this reason I called it the “Road from Hell”.  The real difference is that I emerged from this hell shaken but grateful to be alive. 

The Sun was glorious waking up from its sleep; its golden arrows streaked the Eastern skies making it glow in a melange of beautiful strange orange-golden colour.  The problem with this east at Mitumba was that it was not the one at Jozi.  It was a relative east, to borrow from Einstein.  Yet I knew it was east since the sun always rises from there, and nothing in recent science had suggested that this thesis had changed.  But what kept me wondering even more was whether our sense of direction has something to do with the Circadian Rhythms?  As I pondered these matters, I brushed my teeth and doused my face with cold water.  This was inevitably the third day I was doing without a bath; it was alright.

In spite of the experience I had gained over the days packing the bike, it still took me about an hour to tie-down every pieces of luggage.  As usual the local citizens were milling around me.  I know I can start a conversation with any one and talk about atoms, politics, the laws of supply and demand, enzymes, cooking or my favourite theme ―bikes, yet there were instances when I would give preference to being a monk ― a few moments in the morning.  It helps shuffle stuff in my mind: meditate or whatever name you give to it.  Right now I was thinking about the road ahead, yet it was impossible to avoid my hosts.  Rashid was here to introduce his wife to me: Huyu ndio shemeji, he said (It is a complicated to translate a local language directly into English since some of the words have no equivalent.  In this case, the literal meaning was brother here is our sister-in-law).  In the way he had said it, he regarded me as a brother, member of the family, and thinking about it later I was amazed by the extent of the inclusivity of our African languages, of which I speak ‘treasurably’ but modestly a good many of them and understand by extension the various dialects.

It was time to go ― the chief.  I had to request his permission to depart.  After a while, I found him among women who were sorting rice, either for a big feast or for the eating house.  I said to him I had slept very well. I inquired how he had slept.  After exchanging salutations, I said I was very grateful that he had hosted me.  I prayed that he will be kind to many more who come his way, and that I was asking for his permission to continue my journey.  He said indeed he rendered me his blessings and that I should travel with Allah.  As was my custom, I slipped a gift secretly in his hands. He said he accepted it and was very pleased.  I said I would come back one day, nearly letting a tear roll down my cheek.  I had already been warming the motor for about ten minutes and with a crowed to bid me well, I rode off in a very jovial mood saying Asante!  Asante! (Thank you).

That was my first mistake.  Riding off in a jovial mood, now that seems odd to say.  It was not a bad thing in itself.  The problem was it clouded my immediate judgement to details of the changed road conditions.  This might seem a contradiction but it is how it happened.  But I rode off in same attitude I had ridden yesterday: speed, not exactly understanding that the rain has made the terrain a dangerous place.  It was the volcanic soil that is as slippery as oil.  As I began to breathe in the air, I began encountering pools of water on the road.  My good senses advised me to slow down: I climbed from 120kms to just below a 100kms.  This portion of the road evinced recent road improvement activities.  The road had a convex shape and my idea was to ride on highest part of the convex presuming it to be hard, safe and would provide traction.  In the middle of the road I pushed on desiring to cover as much distance as was possible today. 

It happened without warning.  My second tumble came to pass this moment.  Replaying the scene in my mind later, it was like in the movies, the frames had been slowed down a thousand times, the bike turned vertical from travelling horizontally, and begun to lean to my right at the same time sliding to my left and reducing the 180 degrees faster than I could blink. I separated from the bike and was thrown clear into the middle of the road.  I heard my screen snap, and then silence for even Scorpion had switched off.   I lay there waiting.  I don’t know what I was waiting for, just waiting fully conscious.  I was still in the vicinity of human habitation but it was early in the morning about 10kms from where I spent the night.

In times of tragedy, and I think this is true of Haiti in the wake of the earthquake, one of the sweetest sounds you can ever hear or long for is the human voice.  I don’t remember whether my eyes were closed or open but the voiced said “pole” (I sympathise or emphasise with you) and she held my muddied gloved right hand.  Slowly I sat up.  No pain, good I thought!  I moved my legs and hands no pain, good! I leaned forward and supported by her I stood up.  All this was happening in silence.  I was covered in the red mud from the top of my helmet to the toe of my boots.  It was like someone had soaked me in the red mud.  My riding gear is normally impressive, at least in the photos.  The red colour had replaced the black and yellow.  I could not stifle a chuckle.  Then I burst out laughing thinking that even my own mother would not have recognised me in my new outfit.  I said to the Angel Lady Asante!  I remember mumbling something like “journeys are sometimes like this”.

I inspected Scorpion.  It seems she has sustained some damage.  The screen was broken from the fame holding it into several pieces: it was irreparable.  I retrieved the road licence which was stuck some place on the inside.  I stood Scorpion on her feet.  The evidence was clear: the aluminium panniers had absorbed most of the shock and had acquired a new shape.  In addition, more reflectors had fallen off.  Scorpion herself was unscathed.  I stood her on her side stand and waited for her to take some breath then hit the Start black button.  She roared into life without hesitation.  That sound was really uplifting, the second sweetest sound I had heard that day.  I could not hold back a tear that decided to roll down my cheek.  I realised our bond was a very special one. I was glad the helmet was on to shield my face.  I had removed it temporally to clean the mud off the visor.  I shuddered to imagine Scorpion not starting; what would happen?  I mean not start in a serious way. I was about 3500kms in the middle of nowhere.  I believed at that moment that I sat on Scorpion, waved and rode-off.  That was the first of the more than fifteen falls I would experience that day on a stretch of about 280 kms.  I normally cover 100kms in 50 minutes.  Today was a new experience; I would spend exactly 15hours and 17 minutes on this stretch of road, for hell had just broken lose, but and it is a big one, I knew that the Lord was travelling with me as pillion.

On the Blog: http://mzee-jaki.blogspot.com/2010/02/road-from-hell-iv.html (http://mzee-jaki.blogspot.com/2010/02/road-from-hell-iv.html)
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: Mzee on February 03, 2010, 11:13:56 am
The Road from Hell V

To say I was thoroughly shaken to the marrow is an understatement of my mortal condition.  I am not a hero.  This sort of incident could spell disaster; I mean real trouble that could have become a nightmare of disproportionate scale to deal with.  Our Lord at the Garden of Gethsemane was terrified of the prospects of his suffering.  I had joined these ranks.  I was genuinely terrified of the scenario of a certain eventuality to come.  It has been days since I had communicated with anyone in the ‘civilised world’.  Much as I was enjoying the odyssey, “Wake-up”, I told myself.  This fleeting transition, as engendered by the fall, from the atmosphere of idealism to realism was precise and brutal.  Further persuasion was unnecessary.  I heard the message.

Within the Human anatomy are hardwired mechanisms to cope with any inexorableness although the scope and degree varies for each person.  As it were, in spite of my state of affair and still shaking like a leaf in the winds, I reckoned it was to my profit to ride on the crest of the wave rather than its base, for to allow anything to dampen my spirit was like to give an open invitation to Master trouble.  I decided without the slightest hesitation that a positive spirit was a better and much preferred companion.  It was also reasonable to reduce my speed to 60km per hour, but by the reckoning of subsequent events this was way still too fast as I would soon discover.   

Unlike my first tumble, whose cause I had to figure out, I was more or less aware of the circumstances that led to this tumble.  It was therefore necessary to carry out some post-mortem.

But in the interim, my mind was preoccupied with my environs.  It was a beautiful morning with a clear azure sky, with huge cotton-like clouds adorning the heavens.  The air was crisp, clear and clean.  It was simply a magnificent countryside ideal for riding.  I was entering a wooded area that was not dense with undergrowth.  I slowly breathed in the air.  I could feel the crispiness as the air rushed through my nostrils.  I loved it; I loved the trees; I loved the birds flying across the road; although, sadly one had blindly flown into the bike and got killed.  For a while, I allowed nothing to disturb this mood.  This is what I needed.  Besides, a great spiritual saying teaches us that while we are in consolation, we ought to gather as much of it as we can in preparation for desolation. I suddenly realised that I missed my family, my friends, my colleagues at work and my home.  I checked myself momentarily.  Where is this 'missing' stuff coming from?

I did not want to think of loneliness.  It was not a palatable subject at the moment.  Thinking of the reasons that caused my fall was of practical import to me to learn from the experience.  As it were, it is rarely true that a single factor will wholly explain an accident.  My first suspect was speed.   Riding at 100km per hour on such a treacherous road was a massive risk although this was not immediately impressed on my mind when started this leg of the trip.  I had also noticed that this red mud apart from being slippery like a mud fish, it also stuck on the tyres.  This means that it clogged all the thread patterns thereby affecting traction.   In addition, the Anakee II Scorpion was wearing were not suited for this kind of road conditions.  I am not an expert but I have wondered whether wearing knobblies would have made any difference.  That I had very little traction was an idea that was to be proven right in a short while.  But before I discuss this proof, the third suspect was the general condition of the road.  Like I said earlier on, this road was recently graded and there was a lot of loose earth which was turned into mud by last night’s rain.  In my view these were the causes of my tumble.

I rode on grateful that the odyssey was still on.  My speed was reduced even further to below 40kms per hour since the mud was now a real menace.  This red mud!  All my riding skills were out of the bag: sometimes standing, sometimes sitting, and sometimes my feet helping with the balance.  I was grateful that my off-road Garnae riding boots were a very good investment.  For the first time I appreciated their true worth, yet they had one terrible weakness: water tended to seep into the boot through some crevices I have not been able discern to-date. The predicament was a health one.  If they boots were soaked and wet inside, a whole day was necessary for them to dry.  Sometimes I did not have a whole day.  I was obliged to wear them wet.  But bacteria, leather, moisture, socks and flesh are a bad combination. The first sign of this trouble was the petrifying reek.  It was so potent that it has the potential to knock you senseless by merely depriving you of oxygen.

Ammonia is nothing compared to smelly boots.  I remember, in 1979, I was visiting my friend Maloba who was studying at the same primary school with me.  His elder brother Wekesa was also visited by a friend who was a soldier.  He arrived while we were all in the parlour playing Scrabble.  That smell was like nothing I had ever come across.  At first everyone was polite about it, I looked at Maloba and we knowingly looked at the offending pair of legs.  Soon everyone was at the risk of fainting, for this was not just about the overwhelming acrid smell, but there was most probably a chemical reaction producing a noxious gas.  Shortly, I developed a headache.  The poor soldier was soon dispatched to wash his boots and feet.  Considering the matter in retrospect, I think the soldier boy was not even aware of the problem.

It was while engrossed in these thoughts that I went down the third time. At least I saw this one coming.  I said that I was riding on the crest of the road.  The simplest way to imagine the shape of this road is to imagine the keel of a boat, albeit a gentle one.  Well, there was a truck coming in the opposite direction.  I always give way to these trucks which I did with this one.  I was riding downhill and battled to bring the bike to a gentle stop but somehow it was a battle.  I went down.  It was an insignificant fall; a fall nevertheless.  The tuckers reached me as I was going down.  They drove around me and kept going.

I realised that I needed a healthy respect for this mud-road.  In less than 15kms, I was down the second time.  I was determined to continue my trip, nothing, not the state of the road was going to stop me.
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: White Stripes on February 03, 2010, 04:55:04 pm
Careful boet! Hope you don't kill yourself trying to mix the mud. GBWY.
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: cloudgazer on February 03, 2010, 05:06:16 pm
truly an awesome report.
 :thumleft:
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: Mzee on February 08, 2010, 10:15:49 am
With Pictures: Blog: http://mzee-jaki.blogspot.com/2010/02/road-from-hell-vi.html (http://mzee-jaki.blogspot.com/2010/02/road-from-hell-vi.html)

The Road from Hell VI

I lifted Scorpion onto her feet.  There were no damages this time given that I was riding below 40Km per hour.  I mounted her and road like nothing had happened.  I had no cares whatsoever in the world but at this rate, this strip of the odyssey was in for a long haul.  I submitted to my mundane fate; it was better for the health of my mind.  

I need to emphasise that I experienced different weather patterns on this day.  I started the journey with the day promising to be a great Mediterranean sunny day.  But on entering the forest, the sun disappeared, which was replaced by sporadic rain. This dual-dance between rain and sunshine persisted for most of the morning and early afternoon.  Thereafter until I reached my destination Uvinza some time at 10:17 East African Time, it was rain ― sometimes in buckets and sometimes just a drizzle.  

One of my major losses the previous evening some place between Simbawanga and Mitumba, my Assault rain suit fell off the bike.  It was the first thing I lost on this trip.  Yet in spite of this set back, my Firstgear suit was quite adequate in protecting me against the elements.  

By this hour, I was riding through Katavi National Park.  The rain had stopped.  This portion of the road was firm with neither sand nor mud.  I was in a sanguine mood and adjusted my speed to 90kms.  I recall this because I glanced at the instruments and the needle on the odometer looked like it was stuck on the digits 90.  I burst into a clearing where the trees were more or less 100m from the road.  I came round a fairly steep bend, and then hell simply broke loose.  First it was the yoyo motion of Scorpion, and then she was galloping away, or shall I say she went berserk. I remember crying “dear Lord what is going on!”  I was both surprised and very frightened.  My heart was racing away too.  There were times I was literally airborne: the bike jump to the right side of the road and then to the left, I had throttled down but was terrified to use the brakes given the slipperiness of the road left behind.  I applied all my energies in controlling the direction of Scorpion; I wanted her to remain on the road.  She swung back to the right into a trench.  I succeeded to I wrestle her back onto the road and lo and behold I saw myself acrobatically airborne flying over the handle bars.  I don’t know how long it took but I felt my head connect with the ground.  I don’t know how many times I rolled; however gravity did not give me the luxury to roll forever.  I finally came to a stop. Just when I thought it was over, in a fraction of a second, I saw Scorpion flying as if she had decided to somersault over me; but how?  I closed my eyes.  At that moment when I should have moved, I didn’t.  I was frozen to the spot by what I had seen.  I thought it was over.  But only God knew the ending.  Sometimes you do your best; other times you let the Higher powers take over.  It seemed like an eternity before I heard the crush, away from me. How Scorpion’s 250kgs missed me, is something I ponder every day.

I lay there; how long I cannot tell.  I knew I was crying because I could feel the warm tears flow over the side of my face.  Slowly I sat up feeling my legs, my arms, my spine; I couldn’t be sure but it seemed okay in the interim.  Then I just let go.  Whoever said men don’t cry.  I let them tears wash my cheeks.  Well, I had the comfort of knowing I was alone.  I did not know why I was cry; but it felt good to cry.  I cried even more.  But then something was burning; I quickly turned my head and saw smoke at the rear side of Scorpion.  I climbed onto my feet so fast that I nearly toppled.  My mattress had ‘untethered’ and come in contact with the exhaust pipe; it was that part that was burning.
 
Meanwhile, I noticed that the topbox was flung out of sight.  The mirrors were broken, the right indicator was severely cracked, the right hand-guard had snapped off the handlebars, and the panniers had taken much more beating this time acquiring almost a new shape.  An accident may seem a long time in happening but it actually happens in nano seconds.  The realisation that I was in a forested game park, got me working quickly.  It was about late morning ― three tumbles in a row were a painful torture to say the least.  This state was exacerbated by the loneliness I was experiencing.  Indeed, this was a very lonely road.  Since morning, I had come across one truck going the opposite direction and none my way.  There were no human beings in sight for miles.  I was also feeling very tired, not just physical tiredness but that of these tumbles.  I was quite certain that this last one was not my fault.  There are things you can be dead sure of in life; this was one of them.  A form of depression was creeping over me like a bad spirit was taking over my life.  Understandably, after these morning events, every stimulus was surely in place to send me into a severe depression.  But with sheer will power I refused to go that route.  I was thinking about resuming my journey.  But first I had to raise Scorpion.

She was loaded slightly more than 250kgs dead weight.  Raising her each time was a pain and at feat: the former because I dreaded it, the latter because I looked forward to advancing the odyssey.  I check her for further serious damages; there were none.  The crush bars and the panniers had absorbed most of the shock.  This was by far the hardest fall I had experienced.  It was now that I removed my Arai helmet. It had quite gash on the rear side.   It must have been a stone since this part of the road was littered with them.  The helmet would simply have to be replaced.  And where was my topbox?  It was twenty meters behind a bush.  I do not doubt that for the second time the topbox nearly killed me.  It was time to give it a permanent solution in the next town.  

An hour went by before I had everything secured onto Scorpion.  I hit the start button and again, she yielded.  I shouted “Scorpion” in absolute joy like a ten year old boy.  I was still smiling when I pulled away.  I was very grateful to God that I was shielded from ending the Odyssey prematurely and unceremoniously. In a pensive mood, I rode on for another 30kms before reaching Mpanda Ndogo Mpanda still shaking, dusty, hungry but alive and well. It was a very close call.


Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: krister on February 08, 2010, 10:45:10 am
Thanks for the update, Mzee!  Sorry about the latest off, but glad you're back on... Keep going!  :ricky:
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: roxenz on February 09, 2010, 02:40:25 pm
I can see now why you are calling it the road to hell!  Riveting stuff, Mzee!  And indeed: pole sana with all the falls...
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: Xwagga on February 09, 2010, 05:52:19 pm
Eish sounds like a hard fall
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: Mzee on February 10, 2010, 10:21:19 am
With Pictures: http://mzee-jaki.blogspot.com/2010/02/road-from-hell-vii.html (http://mzee-jaki.blogspot.com/2010/02/road-from-hell-vii.html)
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: BlueBull2007 on February 11, 2010, 04:35:31 am
Wow, this is awesome stuff. What an adventure. What a blessing!

Have you ever looked at the Nooma video "Rain?" You should. I think you will really identify with it. This link should work:

NOOMA Rain | 001 Rob Bell - Full-Length Version (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LYKa9E1xzao#)

I did not want to detract from your RR, so if you would prefer I remove just shout.
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: letsgofishing on February 11, 2010, 08:00:36 am
Mzee, what a truly amazing journey you had!
Respect to you.
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: Mzee on February 11, 2010, 11:11:24 am
Thanks BlueBell... and Logfish... There is more to come.  Read on.  Just too busy to post at times.  But got plenty of stories.  Unfortunately I cannot post pictures.
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: Puddles on February 12, 2010, 02:57:09 pm
Wow  :o  ... Respect to you, that is a journey of a lifetime !!!
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: darkhelmet on February 12, 2010, 03:26:15 pm
The last drop sounds bad! The Scorpion tool a rough beating...

maybe you can post the name or Garmap picture of this Road from Hell, so others can be weary crossing it :)
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: Mzee on February 15, 2010, 05:12:28 pm
Enough of Tanzania

With Photos: http://mzee-jaki.blogspot.com/2010/02/road-to-kasulu.html (http://mzee-jaki.blogspot.com/2010/02/road-to-kasulu.html)

I had slept deep and sound with very little cares.  Riding from Mitumba to Uvinza had been the toughest ride. It tested my will, my physical endurance, my riding skills as well as Scorpion’s abilities as a machine of exceptional engineering. Yet, it was also the most adventurous and exhilarating.  I was happy to be doing something close to my heart notwithstanding the perils involved.  I refuse to live a boring life. I refuse to drift like a piece of wood down stream after a heavy down pour.  I have never been a drifter. I have resolutely chosen the direction I have wanted my life to take at every turn.  My secondary school history teacher use to say: “Every individual writes his own history and that is what the world reads”. This history emanates from the choices one makes be they good or bad choices.   When I set out on this odyssey, the support from my friends, funs and family was a mélange of different emotions and attitudes.  Charles my brother had categorically said no: in his view it was too risky.  Little did he know that a company that takes out travel insurance would echo his very words. Some of my very Christian friends had reiterated similar sentiments.  The response from my riding partners on the Wild Dog Forum ranged from very hot to lukewarm.  I could sense extreme eagerness and support to palpable fear and indifference for a variety of reasons, but there-in-lies the difference.  There are folks who wait for things to happen to their lives.  That has never been my style.  I have always made things happen to my life. When a travel insurance company declined to insure me claiming it was too risky an investment, I did not weep and mourn.  I simply set out on the Odyssey; here I was today at Uvinza.  I was in an upbeat spirit and in the mood for the next leg of the trip. I had remained in bed for a while assessing the previous journey.  In sixteen years of riding I had as many tumbles in one day on the same stretch of road. I chuckled remembering the consternation, the panic, the tears, the darkness, the rain, the lonely road, the exasperating insects and the fact that I was drenched from the neck to the toe of my boots.

I think part of my excitement was to do with my new destination.  It would be the first time I was visiting Burundi, which was about 150kms northwards.  I was looking forward to the ride with anticipation.  I refused to take anything for granted.  120kms was apparently a short distance but my yesterday’s experience had firmly convinced me not to underestimate the terrain and the elements.  Much as I love Tanzania, I had had enough of its beauty, the hospitality of its people, roads and air.  I had one thing on my mind — to get out.  So I planned on setting-off at the earliest opportunity. I was feeling hungry; I had to eat something.  

The sky was overcast and it did not promise a bright day.  I had this premonition that the ride was going to be equally tough.  Before I went to inspect the bike, I placed an order for chapati (some sort of pancake made of wheat flour, oil water, and salt (sometimes sugar)) and tea.  When the chapati is well made and it is a delicacy incomparable in its own right.

In the meantime, I checked my front brakes.  I was shocked by what I saw.  The front brake pads were non-existent.  A chill went down my spine like a bolt of lightening imagining the unimaginable.  I lost my appetite.  The imperative was to replace them.  I loaded Scorpion, and wasted no time in setting-off to look for a mechanic.

The roads were fearfully slippery.  Western Tanzania is situated on the western flank of the rift valley.  As a consequence, the soil texture is volcanic.  This makes it exceedingly slippery when wet. I was in no mood to explore Uvinza, and so did not see much of it.  As Uvinza disappeared behind me, the road led to Kigoma, a port on Lake Tanganyika.  

Scorpion was hurt from the many tumbles.  She had some mechanical problems whose gravity was impossible to assess at this point.  For example, there was a rocking noise emerging from the below the instrument panel that grew progressively loud on a corrugated road.  It took me another 1000kms before I discovered the source of this noise.  I looked several times but could not figure out where the noise.  The second problem was the brake pads, which I intended to replace either at Kasulu  

As I embarked on the trip, I was debating whether I should go to Kigoma.  To be absolutely sure that I was not putting myself in jeopardy, I stopped to ask about the road conditions to Kigoma.  The answer and my two mechanical problems dissuaded me from heading to that direction, for I was not looking forward to getting stuck in the middle of nowhere.  Kasulu had my undivided attention — a northern town, about 60kms away. I reached a junction and turned northwards away from Kigoma.  I soon realised that I was in for real trouble.  A grader had recently tried to improve the road surface.  The problem was that it loosened more earth, so that when it rained the road became one massive mud puddle.   I had learnt my lessons the previous day but this in no way lessened the hazards waylaying me. On a certain portion of the road the mud was so thick and sticky that even a Land Cruiser that was following me out of tacit agreement had difficulty navigating the stretch. It was not surprising that the 4km stretch took me two hours to cross but only because I employed two men to hold Scorpion on each side, literally walking her.

As it were, it remained overcast all morning and early afternoon, sometimes rain fell intermittently. The road to Kasulu was thickly wooded. During the early part of the journey, I met hundreds of folks going to the market being a Friday.  I would have loved to spend sometime at the market but the rain and the mud dampened my interest.  So I plodded on. I don’t know how many times I tumbled. I was no longer interested in the statistical details. But one notable one that would have brought my trip to an abrupt end is worth mentioning.  I was going uphill.  Both sides of the road had gorges more or less 3ms deep. My speed was about 30kms per hour.  Scorpion front wheel turned right in the slippery mud and the rear slide so that I was now travelling vertically on the road heading straight for the gorge.  I have never been as frightened as at that moment.  I don’t remember the actual thoughts racing through my mind at that time but for some reason the front tyre turned again and I was facing the direction I had just come from.  I let Scorpion roll down hill using the momentum of her weight.  I stopped and sat on a rock to rest my heart which was beating like I was in love with death.  Had I gone done that gorge, at best a crane of some sort would have been necessary to hoist me out, and at worst I would have sustained many broken bones.  I still look bad and a shudder goes down my spine. Someone definitely protected me.

When I had regained some normality and there was less adrenaline in my blood stream, I tried again this time with the help of two men and walked Scorpion up hill.  I soon left the wooded road behind and was riding on a terrain of rolling hills — absolutely beautiful.   In this manner gazing and drinking the beauty of Mother Africa, I arrived at Kasulu about midday exhausted but alive and thankful to God for His protection.

Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: krister on February 15, 2010, 05:50:21 pm
I stopped and sat on a rock to rest my heart which was beating like I was in love with death.  Had I gone done that gorge, at best a crane of some sort would have been necessary to hoist me out, and at worst I would have sustained many broken bones.

Great RR'ing, Mzee!  I enjoy the way you're able to put your honest experience of situations on paper (or screen)...  Go well, Broer ... stay safe but never let paranoia kill the fun!   :ricky:
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: BlueBull2007 on February 15, 2010, 08:02:07 pm
Excellent stuff Mzee!  :thumleft: Really,  this trip is an epic of note. And youre photos are so beautiful, I wish they were bigger.
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: Mzee on February 16, 2010, 05:00:12 pm
I have bigger photos but trying to save space on the blog.  Thanks for reading and appreciating. More to come.
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: Mzee on February 22, 2010, 06:34:30 am
With Photos: http://mzee-jaki.blogspot.com/2010/02/night-in-burundi.html

A Night In Burundi

Northern Tanzania is without a doubt a living Eden.  Yet the mud and the rain were seriously encumbering my ability to fully exploit my enjoyment of the scenery, since riding was reduced to ensuring that I survive the slippery roads. I reached Kasulu resembling the colour of the road I had been travelling.  My immediate concern was to find a mechanic to change my brake pads.  I had, by God’s grace, just covered some 70kms of the some of the slipperiest roads I had ever travelled on almost none functional brakes.  I came across a young man who boasted that he was the only mechanic in town who could change my brakes pads.  I was wary of a boasting mechanic; I simply rode-off leaving him speculating whether he had said something that offended me.

The kindly folks of Kasulu directed me to another mechanic who changed the brakes in less than 10 minutes for a fee of 5$.  Again, a crowed of young men around me was massive.  I rode away thinking: Was this mass of loitering young men not a recipe for crime?  In Johannesburg, if I came across a group of teens I would change direction. One evening, with my friend Horman who was visiting from Durban, I went out to shoot a sunset panorama view of Johannesburg on Kensington memorial hill.  While on the hill one can see anyone approaching it from any side.  I kept an eye on a group of young men who were on the road below.  When they came up the hill, I was scared stiff.  I packed my gear and we hurriedly went downhill on the same route they were using to come up.  We knew we had to keep calm. The only weapon we wielded was the Silk tripod weighting 3kgs. It was a formidable weapon.  I carried it in such a way to leave no doubt that I would use it in self-defence. At 6.1” tall, I must have looked menacing. One factor was in our favour namely, the speed with which we packed and hurried downhill.  I could see the dismay on their faces.  I think they had not counted on how quickly we would respond to this perceived threat.  I held my breath when we went past them.  One of them mumble something, but I was so focussed on getting away from them that I kept going. A Congolese friend had been recently knifed in the back and died of his wound. In Johannesburg one will get killed for a mobile phone of less than 150 rand.  These were familiar stories.  We did not want to presume anything. When we reached the main road at the bottom of the hill, to our horror, we saw that the teens were following us.  Our hunches were right; it was a suspect group. We bolted as fast as our legs could carry us.

Preoccupied with these thoughts I was just hitting the outskirts of Kasalu when I came across a police mounted roadblock.  It was not the first roadblock I had come across, but it was the first where I was asked for my international driver’s licence.  It was a youthful policeman making this demand.  In my experience, youthful police officers keep the law to the letter with zeal and zest in the name of serving mother country.  I have always had problems with them.  In this state of mind, I took my time to dismount opened my topbox and asked him what other documents he wanted.  He said, “Just the licence”.  I looked him into the eyes and asked in his language whether he thought I could possibly come all this way without a licence.  

I was not interested in his answer.  I was soon on my way.  A few kilometres down the road, I became aware of a noise from my chain. I knew it was so dry hence the noise.  I stopped to lubricate it.  Once again, I was on my way riding through beautiful rolling hills towards Mabanda the Burundian frontier about 90kms away.  The road improved so that for the first time in two days I could ride at 70kms per hour stopping only to photograph the scenery. The rains were also forgiving and never fell until Christmas day.  But my woes were not yet over — for the roads were still in a fearsome condition.  I would meet with the mother of these conditions soon after the border crossing.  

Today was the seven days since embarking on my odyssey.  I was glad that after two difficult days of riding I was going to sleep in a different place and in a different country. This piece of tiding was incredibly pleasant, and so in a cheerful state of mind I resolutely set to complete the rest of the trip.

I arrived at Manyovu boarder (Tanzania) about 2:30pm.  It was the only place I was asked for my vaccination card on the entire trip. Custom’s clearance was quickly settled.  I was in such a jovial mood that I parted with 10$, ‘donating’ it to the custom officer.  I think it was the joy of leaving Tanzania behind, but in truth he was also a very affable character who genuinely asked me about my trip.  I cleared immigration and the last of my problems started immediately.  

Mabanda was 500m from Manyovu.  To get there, I had to go round a bend and downhill at about a 420.  To compound this state of affair, a Chinese company constructing this road had recently dug it up.  Since it had been raining all morning, there was thick mud everywhere.  Even the custom official said that it would be a miracle if I crossed to Burundi.  

As I came round the bend, a group of about ten 10-15 year old offered to help for a fee.  How could I possibly refuse!  They attached themselves to the bike on both sides and the controlled slide downhill begun; that is how it felt. They pushed a little at a time. In one sense it was like skating but at very low speed.  All the while I felt like my heart was beating in my throat afraid that any time the entire bunch would end down-hill in a heap and possible destruction.  But these kids were adept at what they were doing.  I put my faith in their little hands.  But my faith was tested for the first time on this journey. It was very scary to say the least. It took us close to 45 minutes to descend to the bottom of the hill.  At last I could breathe a sigh of relief.  I looked back and could only shake my head in wonderment: How did we make it to the valley!  I settled my bill and off I road about 5minutes to Mabanda.  

Covered in mud, I knew I was an awful sight by the way the soldiers at the border looked at me.  I had last spoken serious French in 1997 in the DRC.  I was now in a French speaking territory and did not know if I still remembered any of it.  You know how sometimes you speak confidently thinking you are saying something sensible while you are unknowingly using obscene language or simply giving a wrong answer.  I remember my Ethiopian friend Tesfay who was asked “Comment tu t'appelles?” (What is your name?). And he answered cheerfully: “Je ne bois pas de bière”. (I don’t drink any beer). This was hilarious and we often joked about it for a long time.  Bonjour! I called out.  “Passéport sil vous plait” the immigration offer requested. My passport was stamped and I was soon on way.  I thought I would ride to Bujumbura but that was not to be as you will soon discover.  I also had to clear customs at Nyanza about 30kms away which was my immediate destination.  

I was able to keep a constant pace of 80kms per hour. I arrived at Nyanza at 4:40.  I paid customs 30$. I met an elderly man probably in his early 60s who was extremely polite. Once he knew where I was coming and going.  He said my son welcome home.  He took me to his place and had me wash some of the mud off. He made some tea and only after having it, did he allow me to go. I obtained some Burundian Franca and I headed for Rumonge. My host told me that I could not go to Bujumbura since the road closes at night.  He also gave me the name of a lodge, Chez David, where I was to reside for the night.

I glanced at the GPS; I was riding some 2400m above sea level.  Up in the mountains and looking below was a breath taking sight.  The mist in some places was so thick that I could hardly see more than 10m in front of me.  As I descended down the mountain, the tarmac road turned towards Bujumbura along Lake Tanganyika.  It was a delightful sight.  The best part of it, however, was the hero’s welcome I seem to receive in every little town along the way. Everywhere I passed I was given an ovation. I couldn’t help throwing up my leather gloved hand to wave as long as I could and put on an air of a hero.  After days of tumbling, my welcome to Burundi was befitting. I was in the glow of merriment. In addition, it was thrilling to learn that I was the first rider on a V-strom to visit this part of the world.

Remember Burundi in most of the 90s and recent times was in a state of war which eventually subsided with the signing of the Arusha Peace Accord chaired by the then South African second in command: Vice President Jacob Zuma.  But peace was still elusive; thus, explaining why I could not ride to Bujumbura in the night.  I was relieved to reach Rumonge tired but very pleased with the last part of the odyssey.  
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: eSKaPe on February 22, 2010, 06:56:38 am
Great going Mzee, amazing adventure
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: krister on February 22, 2010, 06:58:10 am
Thanks for sharing again, Mzee!  Good luck with the rest of your journey...  :thumleft:
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: Mzee on March 02, 2010, 08:53:36 am
New Post: http://mzee-jaki.blogspot.com/2010/02/night-in-burundi-ii_28.html
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: Mzee on March 11, 2010, 12:42:30 pm
I thought the rest of the stuff should be put in book.  I am terribly sorry.  But if you are dying to read then the blog might have some stuff.  Thank you so much for keeping me company, for reading, for the prayers and best wishes. I hope I was sufficiently entertaining.  ;D :thumleft:
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: Camelman on March 15, 2010, 05:33:09 am
Hi Mzee. It has been great reading your reports. Having lived and worked in Tanzania and Uganda in my late twenties, I have always wanted to return. Make sure you let us know when that book is published!
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: Gat Slag on March 15, 2010, 07:24:22 am
I thought the rest of the stuff should be put in book.  I am terribly sorry.  But if you are dying to read then the blog might have some stuff.  Thank you so much for keeping me company, for reading, for the prayers and best wishes. I hope I was sufficiently entertaining.  ;D :thumleft:
:notworthy: :notworthy: :notworthy:

I also spent a year in TZ and Burundi etc...  Read your blog, let us know when the book is published  :thumleft:
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: Mzee on March 15, 2010, 09:39:03 am
Thanks Camelman and Gat Slag.  Will keep you posted. Working furiously on it.
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: BlueBull2007 on March 17, 2010, 04:39:07 am
You have been extremely entertaining! Thanks so much for sharing. :hello2:
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: MOGGIE on August 01, 2010, 04:55:30 pm
I love your writing  style.
You are also a great man of God.
I like you.
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: Mzee on August 03, 2010, 04:25:29 pm
Thanks folks. I thought this thread had gone cold.  I am looking forward to the next trip in 2012 on the XT Super Tenere 1200Z.  Will keep you posted.
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: Mzee on April 17, 2012, 04:40:49 pm
Family Reunion
 
A family reunion is always an exciting affair as the movie Madea’s Family Reunion has shown.  In our case, among other things, it was even more thrilling since a member of the family had arrived on a massive dual purpose bike never seen in this part of the world.  For most of my village folks who have never travel more than 100kms away from home in their lifetime, it was hard to work out that I had travelled 5500kms from South Africa on a bike.  This state of affair was understandable given that none one was willing to believe that a bike was capable of travelling such great distances.  This belief was compounded by the Indian made Bajajs they ride, which is not only air cooled, but is of such low capacity that it was obvious a trip on a bike was not possible.  This said the commonest mode of transport is the bicycle; it is a way of life. 

More Here: http://mzee-jaki.blogspot.com/2012/04/family-reunion.html
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: Mzee on April 20, 2012, 10:47:25 am
Towards Nairobi

It is seven O’clock in the morning; the air is crisp and moist in Bungoma.  It had rained during the night, and having fallen into a deep slumber, I had known nothing of it.  What an unholy way to sleep!  It had surprised me that if someone had stolen Scorpion, I would have woken up to a grave crisis.  And moreover, the unimaginable might have happened.  Needless to say, I was so tired that when I hit the sack, I had simply passed out.  But, the good news was that I was so refreshed and in a great spirits, which was good for riding.   I had a long day ahead of me.

More Here: http://mzee-jaki.blogspot.com/2012/04/towards-nairobi.html
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: Mzee on April 23, 2012, 11:52:18 am
Towards Arusha

I had covered the distance between Bungoma and Nairobi (350km) in about 5 hours.   I went to Hekima College where I met my host Fr. Leander Kabutta, SJ.  He was missioned as a financial administrator of the retirement home for old and infirmed Jesuits situated in a Suburb of Nairobi.  Fr. Kabutta and I were friends at a college of Philosophy in Zimbabwe, but we had known each other way back in 1995, so I was in good hands.  I met many old Jesuits I knew who were now retired.  Leander and I spent many hours reminiscing the old good days late into the night.  This late hour did not bother me since my itinerary for the day was as far as Arusha, a distance of 269.6 km only.

Read More Here: http://mzee-jaki.blogspot.com/2012/04/towards-arusha.html
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: Mzee on September 15, 2014, 08:03:15 am
There is Always An End to a Beginning.

Although I have never finished my story, there is an end to every beginning.  And some came along many moons ago, a middle class yankee well in his retirement who fell in love with Scorpion One. He wanted to travel through African and Europe.  The truest thing I know is that Scorpion had been a great friend, mistress and companion.  I had put about 45,000km on her. She was a work horse that had simply served her master beyond reproach. Before our relationship, I had shopped around, but eventually settled on a Vee Strom DL 650. That was many years ago.  In those days, it was simply the best thing I had ever possessd.  We had a relationship: it was time to let go.  It was the most agonising decision. I could not stop the tears.  We all do when our relationships are threatened.  Some cynics might cry out, but she was just a machine.  True, this one is not indispute, but what about the stories we wrote together during our relationship, the many hours we spent in each others' embrace in the middle of no where, the tumbles, the rain, the mud, the dust, the people we met, the many rivers we crossed, the the mountains and valleys we traversed, the very long straight roads that seemingly had no end, and the times we spent at the mechanics after some tumbles.  Surely these little memories become part of our psyche -- the story of a endless love between man and machine.
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: Mzee on September 15, 2014, 08:05:36 am
Double post
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: Mzee on January 11, 2015, 08:55:05 am
Post updated: 

http://mzee-jaki.blogspot.com/2014/09/the-end-of-beginning-for-my-suzuki.html (http://mzee-jaki.blogspot.com/2014/09/the-end-of-beginning-for-my-suzuki.html)
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: Ian in Great Brak River on January 11, 2015, 10:58:44 pm
Wow, just seen this RR and read it from front to back.

What a time you have had, what a life too!

Thanks for sharing.

 8)

PS: .... and there I was thinking you were a Yam fanatic all the while  ;)
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: Mzee on January 12, 2015, 08:00:56 am
Wow, just seen this RR and read it from front to back.

What a time you have had, what a life too!

Thanks for sharing.

 8)

PS: .... and there I was thinking you were a Yam fanatic all the while  ;)

Ian, thank you for reading. you now share a part of me.  Although it is an old story, there is great memory everytime I read it.  Among others, it encourages those who long to do a similar thing that it is doable, you don't need big sponsors and big money, just the right kind of planning, patience and endurance.

http://mzee-jaki.blogspot.com/2014/09/the-end-of-beginning-for-my-suzuki.html (http://mzee-jaki.blogspot.com/2014/09/the-end-of-beginning-for-my-suzuki.html)
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: Mzee on September 02, 2015, 08:29:31 am
Reminiscing the old good times -- Blog updated -- http://mzee-jaki.blogspot.com/2009_10_25_archive.html (http://mzee-jaki.blogspot.com/2009_10_25_archive.html)
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: Mzee on December 08, 2017, 07:47:14 am
Time goes by so quickly, and you know so when you begin to suffer from aches and so on.   :imaposer:

At the end of 2009, I embarked on a road trip that took me through several countries.  I look back with nostalgia and have longed for a similar trip.

https://mzee-jaki.blogspot.co.za/2009/10/everyone-has-dream.html
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: Welsh on December 08, 2017, 08:11:24 am
Time goes by so quickly, and you know so when you begin to suffer from aches and so on.   :imaposer:

At the end of 2009, I embarked on a road trip that took me through several countries.  I look back with nostalgia and have longed for a similar trip.

https://mzee-jaki.blogspot.co.za/2009/10/everyone-has-dream.html

I remember it well Mzee, how time goes...  :sip:
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: Mzee on December 08, 2017, 11:32:48 am
Time goes by so quickly, and you know so when you begin to suffer from aches and so on.   :imaposer:

At the end of 2009, I embarked on a road trip that took me through several countries.  I look back with nostalgia and have longed for a similar trip.

https://mzee-jaki.blogspot.co.za/2009/10/everyone-has-dream.html

I remember it well Mzee, how time goes...  :sip:

 :sip: :sip: :sip: :sip: :sip: :sip: :sip: :sip: :sip: :sip: :ricky:
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: 0012 on December 08, 2017, 02:26:48 pm
an epic trip for sure, think it's time for me to re-read   :deal:
you planning a long distance trip on the S10 before she turns 200k km?   ;D
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: Mzee on August 25, 2019, 04:53:43 am
an epic trip for sure, think it's time for me to re-read   :deal:
you planning a long distance trip on the S10 before she turns 200k km?   ;D

Even at 200k, she will still be going strong.  The S10 is built like a tank. Maintain it and she will keep riding forever. :ricky:
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: Welsh on September 12, 2019, 10:20:18 am
Mods can I nominate this report to be moved to the epic section.  :sip:
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: woody1 on September 12, 2019, 10:22:44 am
He loved his bike and biking.
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: Kamanya on September 12, 2019, 10:23:45 am
Mods can I nominate this report to be moved to the epic section.  :sip:

Sure. :thumleft:
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: Welsh on September 12, 2019, 10:26:42 am
I just re-read the part where he said “he felt Malgat” was riding with him, two big men gone from the forum.  :'(
Title: Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
Post by: Welsh on September 12, 2019, 12:04:32 pm
Mods can I nominate this report to be moved to the epic section.  :sip:

Sure. :thumleft:
thank you for moving it.  :sip: